Friday, August 29, 2014

Drum roll please...

I am so, so excited to FINALLY publicly announce all our plans for Camp Stitchalot events for 2015!

After many requests, we're bringing you a dressmaking camp! Next spring/summer, May 28-31 to be exact, we will be gathering once again at the Hankerd Inn in Pleasant Lake, MI to learn from a few of our favorite garment pattern designers and writers to learn the ins and outs of dress fitting.

For dress camp, we've put together a really awesome team of teachers. Each one of these four ladies is incredibly talented and skilled and I know we'll all have a great time learning more about garment fitting and sewing this weekend!

Our teachers for this weekend will be: Christine Haynes, Alexia Abegg, Rae Hoekstra, and Karen Lepage! Classes for camp will be announced with more detail as we get closer to the event but these ladies will help take you through the process of measuring, sewing from a pattern, and making the proper adjustments needed to custom fit any written pattern.

This camp is great for anyone with at least basic sewing skills. Whether you've made your fair share of garments or this is a totally new venture for you, any sewist will walk away with the skills they need to make a custom garment to fit their needs.

Head over to the Camp Stitchalot Summer 2015 page for more info and links to ticketing options!

Our other camp next year is a bit of a change from anything we've ever done before but I'm absolutely thrilled for it and hope you all will be too! It is now that I finally present to you...

In November 2015, we will host our very first Glamp Stitchalot! We're taking Camp Stitchalot to a whole new level with this event. Our regular camps typically sell out at around 30 tickets and some people have expressed an interest in a larger gathering of awesome, like-minded quilty friends. Glamp Stitchalot will let us create that! We're bringing you more classes, more teachers, and just generally even more fun (as if that's possible) all in a fancy luxurious hotel.  I know you all want to know who's coming so let's talk teachers first.

I'd like to say now that there are tons of names I wish we could still add to this roster. But in our time frame, we had to set a limit of six teachers. Let's hear it for the dream team!!

First, I'm so happy to bring back Tula Pink to teach with us! We had a blast with her at Camp Stitchalot this past June. She's been awesome working with us on planning this event so far but I'll tell you more about that later. She's also the source of genius behind the event name!

Katy Jones is coming back to the states to teach at Glamp! I'm not sure if you've noticed, but Katy has been pretty busy lately. When I first started quilting four or five years ago, Katy's blog was one of the first I followed. Now, I've seen her get a show on QNN, become the editor of her own magazine, and design her own line of fabric. I'm so happy to be working with her on this event!

Sarah Fielke will be joining us at Glamp Stitchalot! We were lucky enough to have Sarah teach her Whirligig quilt at our shop for a few lucky Ann Arbor and Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild members this past May. Her books are some of my favorites to pull and read when I'm lacking inspiration and I'm thrilled to bring all of her talents to you guys all the way from Australia.

We next welcome Alison Glass to our Glamp team! Alison is a supremely talented fabric and pattern designer and an awesome addition to our team. From fabric to embroidery to appliqué, Alison has so many tricks up her sleeve. I'm so glad Alison is coming back to Michigan to teach with us next year!

Our fifth teacher is the fabulous Jeni Baker! You probably know her from her blog In Color Order, her awesome quilt patterns, her gorgeous fabric from Art Gallery, or maybe you're just a fan of her bunny George. Jeni has taught at Camp Stitchalot twice before and because she is just so fabulous, we're bringing her back again!

Last, and certainly not least, is Violet Craft! You might know Violet from her gorgeous collections of fabric from Michael Miller or maybe her incredible quilt patterns. Who isn't drooling over that Forest Abstractions quilt right now? Violet is so talented and so much fun so we're absolutely thrilled to bring her to Michigan to teach with us next year!

In addition to these fine folks, Brenda and I will be joining you as your hostesses for the weekend!

Glamp Stitchalot will be held at Kensington Court in Ann Arbor, MI. Kensington Court is a gorgeous luxury hotel and is conveniently located less than five miles from our shop. Plus, the staff at the hotel has been doing a great job helping us plan and make this event as awesome as we possibly can.

So all of these awesome teachers are coming out here to Ann Arbor to hang out with us (and hopefully you too) to work on a project that will be very cool. We're all working together to put together a pattern exclusive to Glamp Stitchalot that will be a choose your own adventure style mystery medallion quilt!

We have our Glamp Stitchalot web page all up and running so you're welcome to jump over there to read a little bit more about all these wonderful plans and get your tickets!

I really can't say just how excited I am for all of the things we have in store for all of you in the next year or so. There's still a bit of planning ahead for us so we'll be keeping you posted with more of the fun news as it comes to us.

P.S. We even made a fun button for you to share on your blog if you're going!
Glamp Stitchalot 2015 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pattern Spotlight: Forest Abstractions

In our shop, we have TONS of patterns for quilts of all different sizes, apparel, bags, and other fun things. I’ve picked a few of my favorites, and I’ll be trying them out for the next few weeks—a top, a dress, a quilt, and some other necessities. We’ve gotten lots of new and exciting quilt patterns in lately, and I just had to try Forest Abstractions, Violet Craft’s newest pattern.

Before I started the quilt, I was absolutely terrified of paper piecing. I attempted a simple block in June and ended up throwing it in the trash. So when these patterns arrived at the shop, I nervously purchased it with the hope that I would eventually finish a few blocks.

Two weeks later, it’s finished! It’s my favorite finish so far this year. I love how all the tiny pieces form beautiful forest creatures. I usually struggle with pulling fabric for projects, but since there are six different blocks with six different color palettes, it was incredibly simple!

I was incredibly surprised at how quickly I worked through it. Violet has some amazing instructions and tips on her blog, and she’s posting tutorials for each block throughout the next few months. She’ll also be posting some bonus blocks if you want to make the quilt bigger than 48”x60”--I'm excited to see which other blocks there will be!

To avoid using three yards of backing fabric (because I'm obsessed with Party Streamers and want to hoard them forever), I cut one piece of my main backing fabric to 64", then cut two 8"xWOF strips, sewed them together, then sewed along the side of the main fabric.

This pattern would be a great way to put scraps to use. Or, if you’re like me and don’t have many scraps, we have some really great bundles in the shop that would easily get you started! Cherie would be a great start, since there are lots of neutrals with pops of color. Or maybe a couple of our scrap packs! It would be really neat to see this quilt made with solids as well—maybe a few months of our No Prints Allowed club could make their way into a Forest Abstractions quilt! If you need more inspiration, the hashtags #forestabstractions and #forestabstractionsqal on Instagram have quite a few other blocks. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

FLASH SALE! 40% off Free Spirit!

We're doing a 40% off flash sale for the next 24 hours on all our Free Spirit fabrics! Let's take a quick tour of what we have in stock.

We've got lots of Denyse Schmidt prints from a few collections-- Chicopee, Flea Market Fancy, and Ansonia!

Next down the line is Anna Maria Horner. We have a few prints left from Pretty Potent, Dowry, Field Study, and even Loulouthi! There's also all sorts of prints from her True Colors collection.

There's still plenty of Heather Bailey's Up Parasol as well as this gorgeous, really large scale floral from Nicey Jane.

We have just a few Tula Pink prints left from Fox Field and Birds and the Bees!

Joel Dewberry's Birch Farm has these incredible deer damask prints and vintage feed sack inspired floral. And who doesn't love those wood grain prints from his True Colors collection?

From all of these designers we have different substrates-- knit, voile, flannel, rayon, even velveteen! In addition to all these gorgeous prints, Free Spirit has a great collection of solids to add to your stash.

Head over to our Free Spirit page to see all these fabrics individually. Don't forget your FS40 coupon code when you check out!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Christmas in August?

September is upon is and while it doesn't much feel like winter yet, it'll be here before we know it. Will it be as cold as last year? Will we again have record amounts of snowfall? What should you get your family and friends for Christmas?

Unfortunately, we can't help with the weather forecast (though I'm certainly hoping for something a little milder than last year), but we might have some ideas about the last one.

Want to get your family into the holiday spirit? We have a range of fun and festive decorations from Nite Owl Quilting, including tree skirts, beautiful quilted stockings, and colorful wall art.

And check out Evergreen Bias from Esch House Quilts, for a modern take on the traditional wall hanging.

As you sit down at the table for a holiday meal together, a pretty table runner would add just that right touch.

Do you have a little one to buy for? DIY Fluffies has a whole line of adorable plush dolls you can make yourself, many of them perfect for beginning crafters! They're all incredibly adorable.

Of course we have a variety of purses, bags, and totes, ideal for women of all ages on your shopping list. The Aeroplane Bag is great if your planning a winter trip (maybe to warmer climes). I love the starburst design on the Sunrise Clutch and could see it accompanying me out for a New Year's Eve party.

By contrast, the Bella purse and Snazzy Slouch are great all-around and practical with all the space a girl could want.

We also have laptop bags and iPhone wallets, suitable for both men and women!

And that's just the tip of the iceberg (look, more cold weather references)! Check out our full line of PDF Patterns for dozens of great ideas.

Consider, too, 318 Patchwork Patterns, the long-awaited translation of Kumiko Fujita's famous Japanese crafts book, bursting with hundreds of applique and patchwork ideas. 318 Patchwork Patterns is a pre-sale item and is expected to arrive in mid-October!

Friday, August 15, 2014

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge!

Did you guys know that our brick and mortar shop hosts the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild? We love our local MQG members and had a blast at QuiltCon in 2013. When all of these modern quilters come together, they seem to do some pretty cool things.

For instance, The Modern Quilt Guild hosts a charity challenge. Some of you may have participated in the challenge for QuiltCon in 2013 but this year they're changing it up a bit!

This year, Modern Quilt Guild chapters will work collaboratively to create completed quilts (pieced, quilted, bound) using a color palette and alternate grid work design, determined by the MQG. Leaders of MQG chapters will be responsible for signing their guilds up by September 30.

After the quilts are finished and displayed at QuiltCon, guilds will be asked to donate their finished projects to local children's shelters. In addition to the gratification of making gorgeous quilts for deserving charities, a few lucky guilds will be featured in a post about the challenge on The Modern Quilt Guild blog next spring!

So what colors will challengers be working with? The Modern Quilt Guild is listing this year's colors as: white, light grey, chartreuse, burnt orange, sky blue, cerise, and deep turquoise.

We were lucky enough to be asked to build bundles around this gorgeous color scheme! We've put together bundles of solids (half yard, fat quarter, fat eighth) and blenders (half yard, fat quarter, fat eighth).

Interested in joining the challenge? Check out the rest of the requirements on The Modern Quilt Guild's blog.

Not a MQG member? Click here to find the chapter nearest you!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cotton + Steel Club- August

Cotton + Steel Club has officially begun!! Our first month of subscriptions have just gone out and now we can happily share with you what all our subscribers will be getting in their mailboxes in the coming days.

As many of you (hopefully) know, we were so excited about Cotton + Steel as a new company, we wanted to create a new club as a way for people to acquire this massive collection.

We knew a lot of people wanted the entire collection but buying 102 prints all at one time is expensive, not to mention overwhelming. Cotton + Steel Club will let you slowly add it to your stash.

Each month, Brenda and our staff will choose 12 prints, remixing pieces of each of the designers' collections as well as basics. All our remix bundles will be completely unique to our shop! Mixing and matching within each of the collections really is the most fun part because all the prints and colors play so well together.

The first six months of the club (August through January) will consist of prints from this first summer collection. Don't worry, you'll never receive a particular color of a print more than once. So we may use a print in more than one month's bundle, but we'll always use a color way that you haven't received yet.

After the first six months, starting with February, we'll start mixing in prints from the new collections. I know, the mere thought of another 100+ prints is overwhelming. But it's coming and we all need to mentally prepare ourselves for it.

Here's a list of all the prints we used in our August bundle:
If you'd like to subscribe to the club beginning with September, go here!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why Does Yardage Sometimes Come Up Short?

If you've shopped with us a lot, it's possible you've received an email that goes something like this:

Dear (your name),
While fulfilling your order we discovered that one of the prints you've ordered is out of stock. If you like, we can replace it with another fabric of equal value, or provide a refund for the missing fabric.

Relative to the number of orders we fill, coming up short on an order is a pretty rare occurrence. That said, when we have bad news for a customer, it's usually this. And if you're like me, you probably wonder how something like that could happen. After all, we had the fabric listed on our website, so where did it go? It's a fair question, with a really long answer.

In retail, there's a thing called shrink, which is basically any loss of profit you can't plan for. And one of the most common kinds of shrink is merchandise that mysteriously disappears.

Of course, merchandise doesn't really disappear. It either goes somewhere where it's not easily found, or it was never delivered in the first place. And sometimes you just never know which one it is.

In the fabric business, for example, we trust our manufacturers and distributors to deliver to us exactly what we order. But just like us, they're only human, and mistakes happen. We have one person (Josh!) whose job it is to check in fabric, to make sure we get what we order, but even then, we can't unroll every bolt and count every inch of fabric. Sometimes the bolts are just wrong...we get sent more or less of the fabric than we were expecting, and we don't know until we get to the end of the bolt.

And while that does happen, and may even be fairly common, there are plenty other ways for things to go awry.

For instance, we have computer software that tracks our inventory for sales both online and in our brick-and-mortar store, but there are plenty of times we have to adjust inventory manually - the first time a fabric enters the store, for example, or anytime we have to deduct yardage to cut custom bundles - and each point of contact is a chance for a number to be skewed. The fact it happens as seldom as it does is a testament to our own care and attentiveness. It's something we're really proud of.

Sometimes fabric gets misplaced. We have a lot of fabric, and if one bolt gets put back wrong, it can become impossible to find. On more than one occasion we've emailed a customer to let them know we were out of their favorite print, only to discover a short time later that we really did have was just not in its usual place.

Sometimes we actually do have the least, we do when the order is placed. But while cutting the order we may discover a defect - anything from an ink blotch to a tear - that makes it unusable. If it's a small problem we might check with our customer first to see if it they still want it, but if it's not salvageable it means we can't fulfill that particular order .

There is another big cause of shrink that we, fortunately, don't have to worry too much about: theft. Shoplifters account for a huge amount of property loss to retailers every year and it's a major concern for a lot of companies. It's also one of the hardest to control. It's a problem we're glad we don't have!

There are other causes too - bookkeeping errors, bolts being tagged incorrectly, and so on - but the above are the really big ones. We do everything we can to prevent this and we're proud of how seldom it happens. But if you ever got an email saying we were out of stock of something and wondered how that could have happened...well, we're probably asking the same question!

Friday, August 8, 2014

PDF Pattern Spotlight

Happy Friday, friends!

I don't know if you've noticed the massive collection of PDF patterns on our site. With so many easily accessible patterns, it's hard to decide on a reasonable amount of projects to work on. I say projects because who only works on one at a time? Not me.

So let's look through some of these things and pick a few favorites!

First, I love this Catawampus pattern from Freckled Whimsy. This pattern is a new interpretation of a classic Irish chain quilt and is super versatile, depending on the feel you want. I love the scrappy look the sample has and it would make a great stash buster.

Catawampus quilt by Freckled Whimsy

You could replace the white background with another color or even a different color in each square and give it a totally different look. Or feature a large print in the background and use solids for the chain.

Kitty catawampus!

Next is the Lazy Daisy quilt from Jeni Baker. I'm not much of an improv quilter (hopefully that'll change after working with Sherri Lynn Wood at Camp Stitchalot this fall) so this is about as improvisational as my piecing gets. Jeni calls it "random grab bag chain piecing" and because of that randomness, you end up with a different quilt every time you make it. That kind of piecing would also make this a great leaders and enders project!

Lazy Daisy by Jeni Baker
Close up of the Lazy Daisy
Last, and certainly not least, is the Positive Space quilt by Jenna Brand. Jenna's use of solids is absolutely gorgeous in this quilt but you could easily switch it up with prints! It would also be a great quilt for a color study, to showcase an entire collection of prints, or as a quilting sampler! Positive Space is just an awesome, simple, geometric pattern and there's so much you could do with it.

Positive Space by Jenna Brand

Positive Space by Jenna Brand

Sifting through all those patterns has given me tons of ideas. Hopefully you're inspired a bit too and have something new in mind to work on this weekend!